COVID-19 BRICKS AND MORTAR BUSINESSES
Government measures to help protect your bricks and mortar business in turbulent times
The government have issued a number of financial measures to help bricks and mortar businesses through these turbulent times. To help you understand how these tax and financial measures might impact you, we have created this summary for you.
If you are in financial distress due to COVID-19 you can call the new HMRC COVID-19 helpline – Tel: 0800 024 1222
Bookmark this page and check back regularly.
On 19 March 2020 the Bank of England cut interest rates to a historic low of 0.1%, having previously reduced them to 0.25% on the day of the Spring Budget.
All UK mortgage holders can apply for a 3 month mortgage holiday IF they are adversely affected by COVID-19.
Call your mortgage provider and ask for the holiday if you believe you are going to be adversely impacted.
Many lenders have texted their customers and asked that they don't call them, but apply online.
After the 3 month payment holiday, you will see a small uplift in your monthly repayment as the unpaid repayment is added to the remaining balance of your loan.
Updates from 31st October 2020
For mortgage holders who have been adversely affected COVID-19 - mortgage payment holidays have been extended from 3 months to 6 months. If you have already taken a 3 month holiday you can extend it to 6.
If you have not taken a mortgage payment holiday yet, you can apply for one now and until the 31st January 2021.
Interest continues to accrue but your credit rating will not be adversely affected.
Time To Pay Arrangements
Generous time to pay arrangements on current tax arrears
Do call HMRC, but expect to sit on hold, they have a huge rise in calls and a lot off staff off or self isolating. Be patient!
Companies House Filing Deadlines
3 month filing extension for company accounts announced by HMRC for those who might struggle to meet their filing deadline due to COVID-19.
- As part of the agreed measures, while companies will still have to apply for the 3-month extension to be granted, those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension.
- Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete.
- The application must be made before the original filing date has passed.
To the dismay/anger/outrage of many a small business rates payer - rates relief is offered to a limited few industries and many small businesses have been forced to close with limited support to pay their bills. The list of exceptions is long, but I suspect it will get a lot shorter in the coming weeks.
- All hospitality, leisure and retail venues in England, regardless of rateable value, can claim a 100% discount on business rates for 12 months from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
- Unoccupied properties that become vacant in the next 12 months will be charged 100% full rates from three months after they become empty.
Updates from 24 March 2020
- Fuller detail of the retail, hospitality and leisure grant (RHLG) fund has been published by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The guidance document, intended to help local authorities administer the scheme, is available on the Government website.
- Payments will be made to the person listed in local authority’s records as the ratepayer for the business premises on 11 March 2020.
- There is a strong warning against fraudulent claims with a promise of prosecution and clawback for any such payments.
- Certain premises are excluded on the grounds of private use, such as private stables and beach huts. Car parks and parking spaces are also ineligible.
- Businesses in liquidation or dissolved as of 11 March aren’t eligible either.
- What next? The discount will be applied automatically to the next council tax bill, due in April 2020.
Small Business Grant Scheme
- Businesses in England eligible for small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief (RRR) will receive a one-off cash grant of £10,000.
- Payable to all businesses who received a rates bill, even if they get full relief
- What next? Letters are being issued this week to businesses where the local authorities have identified them as eligible.
- Unfortunately, the letters are being sent to the registered property which in many cases is empty because staff are working from home!
- Talk to your accountant who will be able to tell if you are eligible.
Local Restrictions Support Grant
Announced 24 September 2020
Discretionary grants available for businesses forced to close due to local lockdown restrictions.
Business may be eligible if it:
- occupies property on which it pays business rates
- is in a local lockdown area and has been required to close because of the formal publication of local restrictions guidance that resulted in a first full day of closure on or after 9 September. This funding is not retrospective
- has been required to close for at least 3 weeks because of the lockdown
- has been unable to provide its usual in-person customer service from its premises
Eligible businesses will get one grant for each property liable for business rates within the lockdown zone.
- £1,000 per 3 week period where rateable value is less than £51,000
- £1,500 per 3 week period where rateable value is more than £51,000
Discretionary funding from local councils of £1,500 available if:
- your business is required to close but you do not pay business rates
- if your business is not required to close, but has been severely affected, for example as a result of customer businesses being closed
14 Day SSP
- Small-and medium-sized businesses and employers will be able to reclaim statutory sick pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19.
- The refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP for each member of staff off work because of COVID-19.
- It applies to all UK businesses that employed fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020.
- What next? Legislation needs to pass before details of how to apply can be published.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Grants of up to £2,500 per employee where those employees are unable to work (are ‘furloughed’) because of coronavirus, covering 80% of gross salary costs PLUS Employers National Insurance and Pension contributions.
- Employers can top up wages to 100% but do not have to
- Intended to run for three months in the first instance with the first payments expected in early April and the scheme fully up and running by the end of that month
- The grants will be paid via HMRC
- All UK employers will be eligible
- What next? The claim portal is expected to be available on Monday 20th April.
What staff can and cannot do on furlough
- When on furlough, an employee cannot undertake work for, or on behalf, of the organisation or any linked or associated organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue.
- Furloughed staff can work for other companies while they are furloughed so long as their employment contract allows it. So if staff want to top up their 80% salary with a part-time job at their local supermarket, they could do that without compromising their agreement with you.
- Furloughed staff can do volunteer work or training so long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.
Updates from 27 March 2020
Full guidance has now been published setting out how businesses can claim through the coronavirus job retention scheme. Some key details are as follows:
- Only employers that created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020 are eligible.
- The scheme covers full-time employees, part-time employees, employees on agency contracts and employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.
- Employees made redundant after 28 February 2020 but rehired by their employer can be furloughed.
- Employees hired after 28 February cannot be furloughed.
Furloughing Q&A 02 April 2020
Harry and Lisa discuss the top questions asked by our clients relating to furloughing staff.
- Can staff work when furloughed?
- Can Zero hours staff or variable hours staff be furloughed?
- Can staff on SMP be furloughed?
- Who has to fund furloughed wages?
- How long can staff be furloughed for?
- What happens to staff on minimum wage?
Updates from 04 April 2020
- The grant will be calculated based on regular, contractual pay, such as wages, compulsory commission and past overtime.
- The calculation will not include discretionary commission (including tips) payments or bonuses, non-cash payments or benefits in kind.
Updates from 15 April 2020
Scheme updated to include PAYE payroll schemes that were started on or before 19 March 2020
Updates from 16 April 2020
Scheme extended to 30th June 2020 so claim period now covers 4 months from 1st March 2020 to 30th June 2020.
Updates from 12 May 2020
Scheme extended to 31st October 2020 so claim period now covers 7 month period, however the amount of support provided by the government is being reduced.
- up to 80% of the salaries of employees, subject to a cap of £2,500 per month for the period March to August 2020
- up to 70% of salaries subject to a cap of £2,187.50 for September 2020.
- up to 60% of salaries subject to a cap of £1,875 for October 2020
Flexible furlough scheme announced to come into effect from 1st August 2020.
Updates from 29 May 2020
Flexible furlough scheme brought forward a month.
From 1 July 2020, the scheme will be made more flexible to enable employers to bring previously furloughed employees back part time and still receive a grant for the time when they are not working.
Updates from 05 November 2020
On 5 November 2020, the Chancellor announced that the CJRS will remain open until March 2021.
For claim periods running to 31 January 2021, the UK Government will pay 80% of employees’ usual wages for hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Employers are expected to pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work.
Staff can be furloughed on a flexible furlough or full-time furloughing basis.
Employees must have been on an employer’s PAYE payroll by 23:59 on 30 October 2020.
The UK Government will review the policy in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more.
Q2 VAT Payments - Deferred
The fastest way to get cash into a small business is to defer the VAT payments.
VAT is still owed to HMRC, but not due until the end of the financial year.
Any VAT Deferred in the next 3 months, has to be repaid before 31 March 2021.
Cancel you VAT direct debit unless you do actually want to pay it! Not everyone needs to defer.
Defer if you must, move to a separate bank account and ringfence that cash.
Spend carefully and wisely.
Remember - it is still owed to HMRC.
Updates from 24 September 2020
Businesses who have deferred VAT to 31st March 2021, can now enter into an arrangement to pay the debt (interest free) over 12 months to March 2022.
Business who can pay their deferred VAT on time are expected to do so, but those who are unable to pay may opt-into the scheme to spread the repayments.
More information on how to opt in, will be issued closer to the time.
Coronavirus Small Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Business loan scheme backed by the government to help a small business through the crisis, no interest for the first 12 months
- Maximum turnover for eligible businesses was previously set at £41 million per year; it has now been increased to £45m.
- The interest-free period has been increased from six months to twelve.
- The scheme is being managed by the British Business Bank but businesses will access them via one of 40 accredited lending providers, including most major banks.
- Online introducers like Capitalise have access to some of the accredited lenders which might make it easier to find the support you need.
- The maximum value of a facility provided under the scheme will be £5 million – higher than the £1.2m announced initially.
- What next? Discuss business plans with existing lending providers. Loans available from Monday 23 March 2020.
Updates from 25 March 2020
The British Business Bank has published comprehensive details of how the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) can be accessed:
- Eligibility: an SME must be UK-based with annual turnover of no more than £45m and have a proposal which would be considered viable by the lender under normal circumstances.
- Types of finance available: Term loans, overdrafts, asset finance, invoice finance.
- How to apply: via one of the accredited lenders on this list. In the first instance, the British Business Bank is urging businesses to apply online and asking those who don’t need emergency finance to ‘consider the urgency of your need’. More detail is available here.
Updates from 03 April 2020
Only 1000 out of 130000 applications have been approved so far, and suggested changes have been outlined
BANKS HAVE BEEN CRITICISED FOR
- Pushing borrowers towards commercial lending, many with controversially high rates from some banks, some as high as 30%
- Requiring personal guarantees on government-backed loans which are £100,00 or higher
- No longer restricted to those who were refused credit in the past
- Interest rates aren't capped just yet, but this may be one to keep an ear to the ground for
- Personal guarantees will be banned for loans up to £250,000
In order to apply for a CBILS loan, most lenders will want:
- Last 3 years full accounts with detailed P&L
- Last 12 months business bank statements (Lloyds Bank usually need 6 months
personal as well)
- Up to date management accounts
- Aged debtor and creditor lists
- Confirmation of any outstanding debt (provider, term, repayment)
- Statement of personal assets, liabilities, income and expenditure from all Directors
- Home addresses of all directors/ shareholders
- Paragraph on how Covid-19 has affected the business and what the funds will
specifically be used for
- 12 month cash flow forecasts
The above requirements will vary from lender to lender. If you do not have everything listed here, a CBILS loan could still be an option to provide finance to support your business but might take longer to approve.
Note: For many customers approaching their existing lenders for a smaller facility, the process may be automated and therefore may not require the same level of documentation.
Regional Variation – Scotland
The Scottish Government has published guidance on its support for businesses in Scotland, with some specific differences:
- The threshold for £25,000 grants for small business is £18,000 rather than £15k, as in England.
- All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get 1.6% rates relief, applied automatically.
- Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief, as in England, also applied automatically.
Regional Variation – Wales
Guidance from the Welsh Government is also now available. One notable difference is that the threshold for the £25,000 grant payment for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses is £12,001 – lower than in England or Scotland.
Businesses in Wales can also access loan and equity funding via the Development Bank of Wales.